Boeing Sees 6-Fold Increase in Employee Concerns Over Product Safety, Quality

Boeing Sees 6-Fold Increase in Employee Concerns Over Product Safety, Quality
The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on July 13, 2021. (Richard Drew/AP)

Boeing saw a 500 percent increase in employee submissions regarding safety concerns in early 2024 compared to the year before, the company said in a May 24 report.

After the Jan. 5 Alaskan Airlines incident, when a recently manufactured 737 MAX 9 lost a door panel midflight, Boeing said it “redoubled its efforts to encourage employees to raise concerns about product and services safety, quality, and compliance.” This caused a six-fold or 500 percent increase in employee submissions over safety issues in the first two months of 2024 compared to the same months in 2023, according to Boeing’s third annual Chief Aerospace Safety Officer report.

The report also summarizes several Boeing initiatives to improve safety, including a new collaboration with its top labor union and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“We are entrusted with the safety of all those who fly on, use, operate, and maintain our products. Our actions are focused on making further improvements to ensure safety, compliance, and conformance of our products and services, without compromise,” said Mike Delaney, Boeing’s Chief Aerospace Safety Officer.

“Our commitment is to never forget our responsibility to make sure every action and decision bring[s] lasting improvements to the safety and quality of our products and services.”

A congressionally directed expert panel reviewed Boeing’s management practices in February, finding a “disconnect” between employees and top management regarding the company’s safety culture. The FAA appointed the panel in early 2023.

Following the Jan. 5 door panel incident, the FAA temporarily grounded Boeing’s U.S. fleet of 737 MAX 9 planes and restricted the company from increasing the plane’s production rate until lingering safety issues are addressed.

“The safety of our products starts with quality work across our design, manufacturing, and support operations. The 737-9 accident in January of this year was a stark reminder of this inseparable link, and we have work to do to ensure that every Boeing employee understands that vital connection—and our role in identifying hazards and issues that must be addressed,” Boeing wrote in the May 24 report.

Boeing is also launching a new collaboration with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) 751 in Washington state—its top labor union—and the FAA to create an “event review committee.”

The partnership will look to “ensure issues, concerns, and events are raised quickly and reviewed in a fair and factual manner,” giving representatives from each organization a chance to “come together to review certain product safety-related issues.”

The union represents more than 30,000 Boeing workers in Washington state who are involved in manufacturing the 737 MAX jets. In March, the union opened talks with Boeing to negotiate its first new contract in 16 years amid the company’s ongoing safety crisis following the Jan. 5 door panel incident.

Then, in early May, Boeing locked out roughly 130 members of its International Association of Fire Fighters Local I-66 after those workers rejected two contract offers. The decision to lock out the firefighters drew ire from President Joe Biden, who encouraged Boeing to “return to the table” to secure a deal that would benefit both the company and its firefighters.

Boeing detailed other initiatives in the May 24 report. It is now working with the FAA to “develop machine-learning algorithms to identify emerging hazards and safety trends.”

The company also has until June 13 to respond to the Justice Department after the agency announced on May 14 that Boeing violated the 2021 deferred prosecution agreement. Boeing secured that settlement after the fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 but had to stay in compliance until Jan. 7 to avoid criminal prosecution.

Due to the Alaskan Airlines incident two days before the cutoff, the Justice Department said Boeing failed to “design, implement, and enforce a compliance and ethics program to prevent and detect violations of the U.S. fraud laws throughout its operations.”

The Justice Department said it will decide by July 7 “how to proceed” regarding Boeing’s potential criminal prosecution for its multiple accidents and incidents.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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